Support to decriminalize attempted suicide – MOH

Isaac Arkoh, GNA

Cape Coast, Nov. 08,
GNA – Mr Alexander Kodwo Kom Abban, a Deputy Minister of Health has added his
voice to the current debate on the urgent need to decriminalise acts of
attempted suicide describing the law as ‘incomprehensible’.

He said people who
attempted committing suicide should rather be given immediate serious
psychiatric care and rallied the unalloyed support of all stakeholders to
ensure a robust mental health system that worked for all to avoid the dastardly

“Our body
constitution itself does not allow anyone to take his or her life. Therefore,
before anyone makes an attempt, the person may have reached a point of insanity
and if insanity is a disease, why should someone be punished for it.”

“The human body
always wants to run away from danger including death, so the contention to
consciously move towards the point of death means that what is going on in the
body is not normal,” he explained.

The Deputy Minister
of Health who doubles as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Gomoa West made the
appeal during a staff durbar at Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital on the first day
of his two-day fact finding working visit to major health facilities in the
Central Region on Wednesday.

Mr Abban explained
that criminalisation of attempted suicide compelled persons who had suicidal
tendencies to take every measure to succeed at the first attempt, while it also
discouraged such persons from reporting their emotional crisis early enough for

He called for
sustained public discourse and stakeholders engagements to consequently repeal
section 57 (2) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) on criminalisation
of attempted suicide.

Together with
officials from the Ministry and Dr. Alexis Nang-Beifubah, Regional Director of
the Ghana Health Service (GHS) among others, they inspected the Regional Health
Directorate, Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital and Twifo-Attimorkwa District Health
Directorate, where they visited the site of the ongoing District hospital

At all the places
visited, he took turns to address the staff and deliberated on challenges,
successes and the way forward.

Key among their
challenges were inadequate human resource, transport, residential accommodation
and administrative offices, indebtedness to facilities by the National Health
and Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Others were high
utility bills, increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs), high teenage
pregnancy, bad nurses’ attitude towards patients and medical doctors refusing
postings to the Region.

To improve quality
of health care services, all the managers of the various facilities advocated
for the timely release of funds for administrative purposes, clear NHIS
indebtedness to facilities, recruitment of staff, adequate infrastructural and
logistical support.

Responding to the
challenges, the Minister was concerned about the refusal of medical doctors to
accept postings to the Region and assured that his outfit will collaborate with
stakeholders to provide the needed incentive packages for doctors and workout
proper health management system to attract and retain them.

The Region currently
has about 40 medical doctors manning the over 430 health facilities.

The Gomoa West
Legislator also reminded them of government‘s resolve to achieve the Universal
Health Coverage (UHC)-to ensure that all people obtain the needed health
services without difficulties.

To achieve the goal
of UHC; Ghana has identified Primary Health Care (PHC) as one of the key
strategies with increase in the enrolment of the National Health Insurance
Scheme (NHIS) and keeping members active as well as making Community Based
Health Planning and Services (CHPS) Compounds fully functional throughout the
nation as part.

Others are
redesigning the service delivery system to meet the health needs of the people,
increase financial resources in the health sector as well as the private
sector, civil society engagement and retention of human resources for health.

He charged the
health personnel to be committed and cultivate the right attitude of
compassionate care and dedicated services to humanity and reiterated that the
GHS will not tolerate misconduct on the part of its personal.

Dr Alexis
Nang-Beifubah, the Regional Director of the GHS, in an address underlined the
urgent need for government to employ its qualified but casual staff engaged by
the various facilities since their services were seriously needed.

He praised all
health personnel for their commitments and dedication to duty and asked
recalcitrant ones to change or be punished to serve as deterrent to others.